I love flags. You can call them pennants, prayer flags, bunting . . . Whatever you want to call them, I love them. I decided to write about my love of flags for this post because they have once again made an appearance in my new classroom. And, rightfully so: flags can be found all over Singapore.
I saw these flags on the way to pick up my employment pass. When I posted this image to Facebook, a friend replied underneath the image, "They knew you were coming."
These flags were on a corner in Little India, as I swooshed past them in a cab on the way home from IKEA.
And these flags were at Newton Circus, where I was out eating Thai food with friends.
My friend Andee posted this image on my Facebook wall of flags found at Jeni's Ice Cream in East Nashville. Underneath the image, she wrote, "Thinking of you . . . "
Flags started making an appearance in my artwork in the fall of 2007, with Fun House. Fun House was the first installation I did where I started to move away from working only in clay and started including mixed media, especially fabric. I had never used fabric before, never even considered it a medium for my work. But, fabric is theatrical. And since I was making a circus-inspired piece involving cake-like characters, it worked. I hung fabric flags from the ceiling and painted them on the walls. They playfully interacted with the glitter, icing, clay, wood, and the various other materials I had in the space. And, I loved the way the flags made people feel when they saw them. Although the clay characters were kind of mopey, the representation of the flags made people light up: they were happy when seeing the piece. It made people smile.
In the spring of 2009, I created a performance piece in a racquetball court. Poof!! In Movement was my first performance piece. Again inspired by cakes and confections, this piece had flags hanging around the perimeter of the court. And while the piece was hilarious to watch--3 dancers milling about in giant fabric cake costumes--the flags played a very different role. They framed the work, set the stage. Towards the end of the piece, the tall blue "cake" starts running around in a maniacal fashion ripping down all of the flags with the top of her head. She was a tornado. The flags coming down represented not only the end of the piece, but the end of sweetness.
In Baltimore, during graduate school, I participated in 5 shows. This Way to a Horse of a Different Color was part of a signs-focused show curated by 2 of my graduate school friends called Sign Language. While most of the work was in the gallery, I created my work outside of the gallery and down the stairs from the doorway. My sign? One giant pennant surrounded by a bunch of flags and ribbons pointing up the stairs to the doorway of the gallery. To date, this is one of my favorite pieces. It's playful and bright, but surrounded by graffiti and stairwell grime. While the piece was up, someone came along and placed groupings of fingernail clippings wrapped in nylon throughout the piece on various points of the wall. I loved it. It was weird, but I thought it was a welcomed, albite creepy, addition to the piece. When I was taking down the work, one of the tenants in the building was coming down the stairs and told me that he would miss seeing the piece everyday, saying that it made him smile every time he passed it. See? Flags have this effect on people.
Again in Baltimore, this is work from my visual thesis: A Performance Themed in Play. Flags hanging from the ceiling and framing the doorway of the sound hut I made. Children are drawn to flags. I watched their reactions while this piece was up. Young people would see the flags, see the color, and instantly they wanted to know more. They wanted to explore!
When I moved back to Nashville in December of 2010, I was asked to be a part of a collaboration at Blend Gallery to help kick off the Art Crawl. Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee: Who Controls Art? opened in April 2011. Andee created all of the large painted boxing gloves, Allie created the video piece, and I made all of the mini-installations: each installation a shield representing a different part of society that plays a part in controlling art. I installed flags across the pipes in the back of the space and flags surrounded the youth shield. Both sets of flags were from two different installations featured in this post (above), but they made an appearance in this installation in a very different way. Stacey took this image and when she posted it on Facebook, one of my friends said, "It looks like a box of crayons exploded." It did.
Andee and I collaborated shortly thereafter on a giant piece that was both emotionally and physically draining. We created a cut-off mountain top for the NRDC at Bonnaroo, summer 2011. Flags dominated both the inside and the outside of the structure, dancing in the wind, surrounded by fingerweaving.
My Deliciously Happy Kickstarter came with a variety of rewards--some of which I am still finishing up now. But, the $25 reward was a string of bunting. Pictured here are rewards received in Houston (above) and Dallas (below).
And, here is the Deliciously Happy gallery opening, featuring all of the student work, and--you guessed it--a plethora of flags. However, these flags are white. I painted a pink line on a few of them, but the majority are plain white. I really enjoyed how they interacted with the work. Because they were void of color, they stood out against the rest of the work, which was very colorful.
I have my students make flags as one of their beginning sewing projects. Here is 6 year old Makayla in my sewing class at The Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN.
The large flags, above, were part of a collaboration I did in May of 2012 with Lockeland Design Center Elementary called, Imagination & Collaboration: a Boys and Girls Club. During their Field Day, we had every single student at the school come through the classroom and make a flag. Then, we hung them up and around the hut that I designed with the 2nd graders. These flags were huge! 400 flags of this size can really hold down some space! See the students creating the work, below.
In Campfire Tales, May 2012, my friend Megan dug out the flags from Fun House and strung them up behind the tree. It was so strange to see the very first flags I ever made hanging up, mingling with new work, 5 years later.
So it's only natural that my classroom is decorated with flags. They are a part of me. They are a part of my work. They represent craft, celebration, and--now--place. What do you think? I say we get this party started!